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Should price be the main consideration when having photographs done?

Should price be the main consideration when having photographs done?

If you wanted to buy a car, and you weighed up all the possible options, would you automatically choose the cheapest car that you could find?

It may well be that you answered ‘yes’, but for most of us, when looking for a car what we’re looking for is ‘value for money’ as opposed to ‘the cheapest price’, and it shouldn’t be forgotten that there is a big distinction between the two.

Getting value for money indicates that the product you receive is worth the price you pay for it.  It may be that in order to get something that you regard as good ‘value for money’, you may have to pay a bit more; as paying less may result in you getting a cheaper, but vastly inferior product.

The same is true in photography.  There does seem to be a tendency among photography customers to weigh up photographers on the basis of price alone, as if there is no difference between photographers, and it’s merely a case of finding the cheapest one.  This assumption couldn’t be further from the truth.

Ask the important question

I’ll lay it out for you; photographers are not some sub-human species for whom greed runs through their veins.  Photographers are like everyone else – doing their very best to make a living.  With the overheads that come with running a professional photography business, it’s very difficult to be cheap.  So when you come across a photographer who is really cheap, you must ask yourself the important question: why are they so cheap?

There are a number of reasons why a photographer might be cheap, but here are a few possibles:

  • They are less experienced or less qualified than more expensive photographers
  • They work for a large corporation
  • They don’t need the money to pay the bills

These are perhaps three of the most likely reasons why a photographer might be cheap, and as we can see from dwelling briefly on each, they all have negatives attached to them.  The first one is quite straightforward: if a photographer is not very experienced or qualified, then the chances are that the photos you receive from that photographer are unlikely to be the same standard of photos that you can expect from a better photographer.

If they work for a large corporation, their personal reputation is not on the line.  Large corporations have access to marketing and advertising revenue that a sole trader photographer can only dream of, and consequently they will always get business, regardless of whether their photographers are worth their salt.  For a photographer who works for such a corporation, the incentive to provide stunning images is somewhat lessened when they know that no matter what their performance is, the company will continue to prosper and they’ll receive the same paycheck at the end of the month.  The same is true for the third category – those who don’t need the money – but to a lesser extent.

What should be the main consideration?

I guess that as a photographer myself, it’s not my job to tell you what should be your main consideration, but I’m very happy to give some advice.  There’s no doubt that professional photography is a luxury, but if you’ve decided to pay for a professional photographer, then why not spend what is required in order to make sure that you get the perfect photographs that are going to live long in the memory?

In short, having established that professional photographs are a luxury, shouldn’t the main consideration be the quality of the photographs?  Employing a good photographer and paying them the market rate for a photographer of that level should ensure that you get a photographer who possesses good equipment and knows how to use it and one who is well trained and continues to invest in training.

Why should you pay more?

Quite simply, if you don’t want to pay more, then you’re not going to.  However, if you think about all of the things that a photographer might have to pay for – equipment, software, props, accounting, taxes, childcare, training, marketing being just a few – then you should be able to understand that running a photography business isn’t a cost free thing to do.  If a photographer is able to do all of this and still charge you next to nothing, then something doesn’t quite add up.

At the end of the day, it’s all about what you’re hoping to gain from having photos done.  Going to a large corporation and getting some photographs at a discount will certainly allow you to have a record of what your family or child looked like at a particular moment in time.

However, given that large corporations are generally fairly prescriptive, it’s quite unlikely that going to a large corporation will get you a unique and individual photo that perfectly captures a smile or a laugh.  Freelance photographers generally devote more time to a single shoot and consequently you’re more likely to get a bespoke customer service that results in a bespoke and highly individual photograph that will help you remember the good times.




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